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Celtic Reading List

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  • Raven Staff Treibh
    The Dictionary of Celtic Mythology by James MacKillop Irish Wild Plants - Myths, Legends and Folklore by Niall Mac Coitir Early Irish Farming, by Fergus Kelly
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 2, 2010

      The Dictionary of Celtic Mythology by James MacKillop

      Irish Wild Plants - Myths, Legends and Folklore" by Niall Mac Coitir

      Early Irish Farming, by Fergus Kelly

      Industrious and Fairly Civilized: The Glastonbury Lake Village- John Coles and Stephen Minnitt

      Jacqui Wood's _Prehistoric Cooking_ and her newest tome_Tasting the Past: Recipes from the Stone Age to Present

      Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses" by RJ stewart

      Celtic Gods and Heroes by Marie-Louise Sjoestedt

       Alexei's Nemeton email thread on Basic Celtic Deity types:
      http://www.deiuokar a.com/basic_ celtic_deity_ types.htm

       

    • Raven Staff Treibh
      Finding books informing one about specific Celtic deities is a good thing and there have been several useful suggestions. I would also emphasize the importance
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 4, 2010


        Finding books informing one about specific Celtic deities is a good thing and
        there have been several useful suggestions. I would also emphasize the
        importance of using that knowledge in a Celtic traditional way, with focus on
        the mythology of the cultures.

        I would recommend reading Celtic Gods and Heroes by Marie-Louise Sjoestedt to
        better understand how pre-Christian Celts viewed their deity.

        Then I would recommend Alexei's Nemeton email thread on Basic Celtic Deity
        types:
        http://www.deiuokara.com/basic_celtic_deity_types.htm

        I have taken the liberty of researching the Yahoo Group archives to put together
        some of Alexei's thoughts (marked in quotations) that have helped me develop my
        personal practice over the years.

        "Deities are primarily figures that relate to each other in the context of
        myths, and it is those relationships -- as well as the nature of the story they
        form -- that defines who they are. When one chooses to embark on a specific
        religious path, one steps into an ongoing story with established characters and
        a plot with an established direction. To assume that one can arbitrarily change
        these elements is to show that one doesn't in fact respect or believe the myth
        on which the path is based."

        Celtic tribes "needed the help and cooperation of the gods *because* they were
        vastly more powerful and closer to the basic order of the universe than humans.
        The relationship was an unequal one, but one that, through working out a
        framework of ritual sacrifice, could lead to the mutual advantage of both
        sides."

        "The primary relationship humans have with the gods in ritual is one of
        hospitality. One has to bear in mind, however, that the hospitality is expected
        to go both ways, and that this is absolutely central to the Indo-European
        theological and ritual principles that the Celts inherited. Our words "host" and
        "guest" are actually two forms of the same original word, and mean two halves of
        the same mutual relationship. By accepting our invitation to dine with us, the
        gods become obligated to us and are expected to offer us their hospitality in
        return: this is what makes petitions to them effective.
        The gods can survive perfectly well without us, just as we can survive without
        some of our friends. But the creation of the relationship is mutually enriching,
        as human friendships are."

        Indo European tradition, from which pre-Christian Celtic cultures sprang,
        appears to have two contending groups of deities: The Gods Above and the Gods
        Below. Alexei has contended that the Old Celtic terms appear to have been
        "*dêuoi and *andêuoi".

        "The Gods Above (aligned with fire) are concerned with the ordering power of the
        intellect, and as such deal with crafts, law, and everything that contributes to
        the organisation and defense of society; for that reason they are, by affinity,
        generally friendly to human aspirations. The Gods Below (aligned with water) are
        associated with the chaotic forces that govern the cycle of birth and death,
        which are basically indifferent to human concerns but have to be dealt with
        because they are the only sources of physical fertility. Much of the ritual
        cycle is devoted to maintaining a balance between these two groups of deities by
        giving both their due. IE tradition suggests that there was another group of
        deities capable of being intermediaries between the two: in Norse tradition, for
        example, the Vanir, who are antagonists of the Aesir (ie, the Gods Above) and by
        their nature closer to the Gods Below, but able to provide a space in which the
        Aesir and the Jötnar (the chaotic, destructive aspects of Nature) can meet and
        agree on certain things. In Irish literature I see this position occupied by
        Manannán Mac Lir, a figure who sits on the boundary, who seems aligned with the
        TDD but not truly of them, and who, in the context of his feast/assembly, serves
        as arbitrator. Individual Celtic communities evidently had their own ways of
        portraying and naming the deities they worshipped, while retaining traditions of
        theology and iconography that were basic to Celtic culture. The Gods Above, in
        most places, would have been individualised according to their function: a
        warrior-god who was a patron of the aristocracy and also a healer ("Celtic
        Mars"); a thunder-god who was a protector of the farming class ("Celtic
        Jupiter"); a crosser of boundaries who protected travelers, merchants, and the
        Druidic class and was also a psychopomp ("Celtic Mercury"); divine patrons of
        all conceivable professions; and specific goddesses serving as energy (the
        equivalent of Hindu _shakti_) for all these purposes, with one unattached but
        powerful goddess representing the universal _shakti_ of creativity ("Celtic
        Minerva"). The Gods Below would, in a less systematic way, be individualised in
        relation to specific features of the landscape; and the local Land-goddess
        herself, bridging both realms, would of course have been the most intense focus
        of religious activity." End quotes.

        In my personal practice, Cernunnos fills the intermediary position of Mac Lir.

        All the best,

        Tearlach (Moderator, Celtic_Nation Group)

        (Copied by Ikinde)

         


        --- In hrafnstongheathens@yahoogroups.com, "Raven Staff Treibh" <ikindewitch@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > The Dictionary of Celtic Mythology by James MacKillop
        >
        > Irish Wild Plants - Myths, Legends and Folklore" by Niall Mac Coitir
        >
        > Early Irish Farming, by Fergus Kelly
        >
        > Industrious and Fairly Civilized: The Glastonbury Lake Village- John
        > Coles and Stephen Minnitt
        >
        > Jacqui Wood's _Prehistoric Cooking_ and her newest tome_Tasting the
        > Past: Recipes from the Stone Age to Present
        >
        > Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses" by RJ stewart
        >
        > Celtic Gods and Heroes by Marie-Louise Sjoestedt
        >
        > Alexei's Nemeton email thread on Basic Celtic Deity types:
        > http://www.deiuokar a.com/basic_ celtic_deity_ types.htm
        > <http://www.deiuokar a.com/basic_ celtic_deity_ types.htm>
        >

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